I'm Interested In Reading The Bible, Where Do I Get Started?
Have you ever read all of the Bible? Or, any of it? While I grew up a Christian, it wasn't until several years ago that I read the Bible in its entirety (From beginning to end). I had read and known a majority of the Scriptures but in a fragmented way, so when I finally came to realize I had never read it from the beginning to end, I decided to make it happen. Here's how I did it.
It took me two years to finally complete the mission, but it turned out to be a fruitful and personally powerful experience after starting it in 2012. While I finally made it through the process of reading it in 2014, that's not where I started and not where I recommend you start. Before I set out to read the Bible from beginning to end, I took a few other smaller more realistic steps.
First, I read the red letters (the statements made by Jesus Himself) of the new testament. The red letters are the words spoken by Jesus himself. As a Christian, we follow Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) so I wanted to focus in on what He specifically said without the distraction of the context or voices around Him. Upon completing this, I wanted to specifically explore Jesus' story so I read through the biographies of Jesus (the gospels). I started with John and then read through them all (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) several times. After finishing the gospels, I decided I wanted the full context of Jesus and the movement that soon followed to help me understand the origin story of Christianity and the church. So, I read through the entire New Testament from beginning to end multiple times.
Both Jesus and many of the New Testament writers reference the Old Testament scriptures so I wanted to better under them to gain a complete picture of the entire Biblical story (which revolves around Jesus). So, I dove into the Old Testament. Because there's a lot in the Old Testament that's hard to understand, I went through it again with a commentary by David Guzik using the Blue Letter Bible app.
The process of reading the Bible listed above on a daily basis helped prepare me to read the collection of books in its entirety. So after finishing the Old Testament, I began the journey from beginning to end from 2012-2014.
Quick Reference Guide On How To Read Through The Bible
To quickly recap these for you in a list you can remember, here's where to read the Bible and the order to do it.
- Read What Jesus Said (The Red Letters)
- Read John's Biography Of Jesus
- Read and Reread All Biographies Of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)
- Read & Reread The Entire New Testament
- Read & Reread (with an optional commentary) The Entire Old Testament
- Read All Sixty-Six Books Of The Bible
Which Version Of The Scriptures Should I Read?
The version of the Bible I grew up with was the New Living Translation (NLT). For casual new readers, I would recommend the Message Bible. I found it more engaging and powerful to read. Here's what the author Eugene Peterson wrote about the Message translation.
While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren't feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn't read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become 'old hat.'
In addition to the NLT and Message translations, I also read a large amount of the scriptures in the English Standard Version (ESV). In the past few years, I've been reading the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). Most of my reading has happened on the YouVersion Bible app by Lifechurch, but more recently I bought a physical Jesus Centered Bible (NLT) to accompany me.
Not Ready To Read? Start The Bible By Watching Videos
If you find reading the Bible intimidating, I highly recommend checking out the Bible Project. It’s a wonderful free short video series that walks you through the Bible in a compelling and visual way. Start with their video, “What Is The Bible?”, embedded below.
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